Design of an Elbow Joint Reduction Trainer for Dislocation Management; A Virtue Ethics Analysis of Medtronic INFUSE Bone Graft

Berk, Lena, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Barker, Shannon, University of Virginia
Laugelli, Benjamin, University of Virginia

My technical work and my STS project are connected through the idea that they are both inventions used by medical professionals, and these projects explore what impact they have on the occurrence of medical complications. They differ in the way they are used by a medical professional to affect the outcome of patients. My technical work explores technical complications through the use of a device to learn and practice a skill. My STS project explores social complications by examining how a specific doctor uses a compound during surgery to repair an injury or defect. While my technical work and STS project differ in the way in which they are used, the impact they have on medical complications is evident as the main area of focus.

My technical work attempts to decrease the number of medical complications by changing how doctors learn how to reduce elbow joint dislocations. Current methods of teaching joint reductions do not offer hands-on experience. The first time a medical professional reduces a joint is on a patient which causes medical complications. My capstone team created an elbow joint reduction trainer which simulates anatomical landmarks of an elbow, forces within the elbow, and the motion of an arm when it is dislocated and reduced. This allows medical professionals to learn and practice reduction methods in a hands-on way. This device was created by designing an elbow mechanism using SOLIDWORKS that mimics a posterior elbow dislocation. This design was then integrated into a right arm model that was used for a previous joint reduction trainer. The elbow joint reduction trainer will be used by medical professionals in skills labs. The goal of this project is to reduce the number of complications experienced from elbow joint reductions that result from the inability of medical professionals to practice techniques before implementing them on patients.

My STS research also focuses on medical complications but from a different perspective. My research focuses on how the immoral actions of a medical professional led to medical complications. Through the use of virtue ethics, I claim that this medical professional acted immorally by not exhibiting the virtues of discernment and trustworthiness. This then led to multiple medical complications due to the off-label use of a compound during surgery. The goal of this research is to discuss how immorality can cause patients to experience medical complications.

Working on both of these projects simultaneously provided a deeper insight into the occurrence of medical complications. My technical work allowed me to understand what motivations go into creating a medical device. This helped me understand that the compound from my STS research was not made with malicious intent, and rather the complications occurred due to the morality of the doctor. My STS research that I conducted helped shed light on the fact that morality plays a large factor in medical complications. No matter how effective a medical device is, complications can still arise based on how those devices are being used. This provided me with an awareness that my elbow joint reduction trainer can fail in its goal of reducing complications if it is used by someone lacking morality. In summary, working on my STS research and technical work at the same time allowed me to explore the various aspects that can lead to medical complications.

BS (Bachelor of Science)

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering
Technical Advisor: Shannon Barker
STS Advisor: Benjamin Laugelli
Technical Team Members: Laura Ambrose, Nayana Painumkal, Paul Torrisi

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